Rosh Hashanah 2012 – Happy New Year!

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sunset on September 16, which is this Sunday.  It will end at nightfall on September 18.  Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the High Holy Days, which includes Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  There are a number of traditions associated with this holiday, including sounding the shofar, a traditional ram’s horn, and eating food like apples dipped in honey.

Rosh Hashanah is about celebrating beginnings, especially spiritual beginnings and renewal.  This renewal is done by moving through three stages: Tshuvah (repenting), Tefilla (prayer), and Tzedakah (gifts of money).  This cycle of renewal helps each person to remember that the mistakes of the past can be fixed.  During Tshuvah, these mistakes are acknowledged and confronted head on.  If a person cannot accept the errors they have made, they cannot begin to accept them and move on.  This process is actually supposed to begin the month before Rosh Hashanah during what is called the month of Elul, the time of self-examination.

The next part of the Rosh Hashanah is Tefilla, or prayer.  This stage is about reminding each person that their lives, their community, and the world are in the hands of God.  He molds each person into the one they’re supposed to be, and even our mistakes are a part of that molding.  During Tefilla, we must recognize that the world doesn’t revolve around us.  Here, each individual prays and, through prayer, works to align his or her values with those of God for the next year.

Finally, the third stage is Tzedakah, or acts of financial giving.  Jews give back to the world as a way of showing thanks and appreciation for the goodness and love that they have received.  It helps remind everyone that our fortunes and our lives are tied together.

There are many other traditions that are practiced during Rosh Hashanah.  There are a number of traditional greetings and prayers that are recited during the holiday.  In addition to apples and honey, pomegranates are also often eaten and wine is drunk after it has been blessed with the Kiddush, a traditional prayer.

We have a number of different Rosh Hashanah flowers in Washington, DC, that can be delivered before the start of the holiday.

Rosh Hashanah 2011 – Happy New Year!

We borrowed our blog today from Rabbi Howard Siegel

Rosh Hashanah-the Jewish new year-is a celebration of the creation of the world.  It is about celebrating our spiritual beginnings, and beginning, again, ourselves.  On Rosh Hashanah, one pursues renewal through three separate acts-Tshuvah (repenting), Tefilla (prayer), and Tzedakah (gifts of money).

The word Tshuvah (repentance) literally means “returning.”  Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin reminds us, “we are not stuck, our mistakes are not irreparable, we can turn and find a way out of the mess we made.”  Before improving upon one’s shortcomings, one must recognize that, in fact, they exist.  The first step in Tshuvah is admitting to moral and ethical failure.  Rosh Hashanah compels the Jew to perform introspection; to confront behavior, both outwardly hurtful and self-destructive; to probe the depths of one’s consciousness for the painful acts buried deep within.

Rabbi Cardin notes, “Through acts of Tshuvah, we create patterns of a renewed self.  Through acts of Tefilla (Prayer), we blend those patterns into an extended tapestry of self, God and community.”  The prayers of Rosh Hashanah remind the Jew that our lives, and those of the community, are in the hands of God- “For we are the clay, and You are the potter; we are the sheep, and You are the shepherd.  We are Your people, and You are our God.” Humankind is not the hub of the universe.  Everything that happens is not all about “us”.  The earth, and its bounty, do not exist for the sake of the human race. Through prayer, the Jew realigns his/her values and priorities for the coming year.

Finally, Judaism teaches that we are all fashioned “in the image of God.” Every human being has an innate right to dignity and a responsibility to treat others in the same manner.  This means the “have nots” in society have a claim upon the “haves.”  Tzedakah (acts of financial giving) is the way a Jew gives back to the world for the goodness they have been blessed with.  Rabbi Cardin writes, “[Tzedakah] reminds us that our own fortune is tied to the fortunes of our fellow humans and to all Creation.”

When each individual commits him/herself to this three-fold act of renewal, he/she joins a growing community of people celebrating the creation of the world through actions that make this world a better place for all people.

May the coming Jewish new year inscribe and seal all of us for a year of happiness, health, and peace.

Rabbi Howard Siegel


Rosh Hashanah Flowers & Centerpieces